The Benefits of Collaborative Writing

Written by Chantelle Atkins

I’ve been writing my whole life and publishing since 2013 and in all that time it never occurred to me that I would enjoy collaborating with another writer on a project. I’m quite a control freak when it comes to my own writing. I have my own style, my preferred genres and also my own particular process for writing various drafts, editing and proofreading. Over the years I have read books written by more than one author and marveled at how such a thing was even possible.
I run a community interest company called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group and towards the end of 2020, I took on a business partner and fellow director. My business partner Sim Sansford is a young author who I met at a local literary festival in 2019. He was running the festival (the first of its kind in their town) with a small group of like-minded creatives. I took part as an author, talking to readers and selling books, and also ran a workshop for teenagers under my company. Sim and I then became friends on social media and when I mentioned wanting a partner he jumped at the chance and was a perfect fit.
We worked well together and just a few weeks later he asked if I would ever consider writing a book with someone else because he had an idea. I think if anyone else had asked me I would have said no, but Sim also writes YA, I’d read some of his stuff and enjoyed it immensely and we had become good friends and worked really well together so strangely, my first reaction was, okay, why not?
Sim then reeled off some ideas and we messaged back and forth for a few days creating two characters that would tell the story for us. At some point it was decided that we would tell the story in first person point of view in alternating chapters. Sim would write the girl character Darcie, and I would create and write the boy character, JJ.
The messages continued and only a few days later I had a stab at writing the first chapter. It was like jumping into the unknown in more ways than one. We only had a very vague idea for a story and the genre was a new one for me. It would be a supernatural style story and as it evolved, it also became one about superpowers. Neither of these are genres I ever thought I would write in!
I have to say, the experience has been wonderful. In just a few weeks we completed book one and already knowing it would be at least a trilogy, we jumped straight into book two. A few weeks after that book two was complete and we are currently writing book three. We are editing the first book and don’t intend on releasing any of them until they are all ready. There have been so many benefits to working with another author that now I think it is something I would actively seek to do again. Here are just a few of them:
  • faster output – this has been one of the most obvious and exciting benefits. With two people working on a book, it gets written in half the time! We wrote alternative chapters so instead of writing a whole book I have only written half of one, which was obviously a lot quicker to achieve!
  • momentum is strong – another unexpected benefit. When you are waiting for your co-author to pen their chapter, you inevitably get ideas for yours and by the time they send you their bit, you are raring to go!
  • less procrastinating – when you know the other author is waiting for you to finish and return your chapter, you are far less likely to procrastinate or waste time. You want to get the chapter back to them as soon as possible so that they are not kept waiting. It feels a bit like having a very friendly boss and it is definitely a good way to deter writer’s block.
  • trying new genres – I’ve written a few horror stories and a few shorts that could be considered fantasy, but generally supernatural, paranormal and fantasy are all genres I avoid and don’t feel comfortable with. My co-author’s idea ticks boxes in all these genres and has enticed me into new territory. This can only be a good thing for improving my writing skills and experience.
  • fresh ideas and enthusiasm – this has been one of the nicest things about working with another writer. My co-author is younger than me and at the start of his writing and publishing journey. He has an abundance of fresh ideas and has injected the enthusiasm I was perhaps lacking. It’s infectious to work with someone who is so fresh and excited about writing and it has had a very positive impact on the project.
  • more marketing power – another unexpected bonus I had not considered when I first said yes. Marketing my books is something I struggle to find the time or energy for, but when there are two of you sharing the load, it becomes much easier! I am extremely lucky that my co-author has a background in marketing and is talented with art and graphics. He has already made some stunning trailers, videos and graphics to advertise our project. We already have people interested in the trilogy and asking for more, thanks to the marketing he has done.
  • editing/proofreading is more thorough – of course when the time is right, we will be sending the books to a professional editor and proof-reader, but in the meantime, we are editing and proofreading together and this feels more stringent with two of us on the case. We take turns doing edits and sending them back to the other author to amend or consider.
  • less lonely – we all know writing can be a lonely business at times. It’s been wonderful messaging each other daily with thoughts, ideas and suggestions for our trilogy, making it a very different experience to writing a book alone! We can throw ideas around, laugh at them, dismiss them or go with them. We each get very excited when the other sends a chapter too!

These are just some of the benefits of collaborative writing and I think there will be many more to come as we complete and publish our YA trilogy together. I’ve been genuinely surprised by how much fun it has been and I would definitely consider more co-writing and collaborative writing in the future.


Chantelle Atkins  writes in both the young adult and adult genres. Her debut YA novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders and self-harm. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side is a coming-of-age crime thriller series. Also available: This Is Nowhere, Bird People and Other Stories, and the award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels. In 2018, Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing, followed by the gritty YA trilogy: The Holds End series. You can learn more about her work here: https://chantelleatkins.com/ and the company she runs here: https://chasingdriftwoodwritinggroup.org/

 

 

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